Westringia Close-up

Image credit: Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria

DELWP’s Bushfire Biodiversity Response and Recovery (BBRR) program has been working to address the damage and help plant and animal species in fire-affected regions to survive through a series of innovative projects.

To celebrate National Threatened Species Day (7 September), DELWP presents the first in a series of species profiles explaining some of the projects in phase one of the BBRR program.

See the extraordinary lengths a dedicated team took to rescue and preserve a rare East Gippsland plant that was almost wiped out in its tiny habitat on cliff faces above the iconic Snowy River.

Emergency Extraction

After the 2019/20 bushfires, expert teams worked to evacuate plant species at high risk of extinction from the fires.

Found in just one location and highly vulnerable to fire, the Snowy River Westringia faced extinction when its entire range was burned in the 2019/20 bushfires.

Snowy River Westringia

Westringia cremnophila

  • Vulnerable
  • Grows only on two cliffs on the western side of the Snowy River gorge, overlooking the river.
  • Entire range burned in 2019/20 fires.
  • Threatened by drought and fires.
  • Does not cope well with fire and is vulnerable to burns of any kind. Its narrow range within the gorge may reflect this vulnerability.

What we did

An expert team from the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria (RGBV) assessed fire impacts on the Snowy River Westringia population and collected seed and/or plant material to grow within their living collection.

The team could only get to the plants’ location via a 100km raft trip along the Snowy River between Gelantipy and Buchan.

What we found

  • Many of the plants remained inaccessible without expert climbers.
  • Of the estimated 500 plants pre-fire, only 60 survived.
  • None of the surviving plants had set seed.

What we’re doing now

  • Cuttings from five plants are being grown in RBGV’s living collection with the hope these will flower and seed.
  • More seed and propagation material will be collected on a future trip.
  • Parks Victoria is continuing pest animal and weed control to protect the Snowy River ecosystem.

How you can help

Buy indigenous plants from your local indigenous nursery to plant in your garden.

Get involved in your local Gardens for Wildlife program.

Landholders and managers can join Land For Wildlife Victoria.

Project partners

Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, Parks Victoria and funded from the Australian Government's Bushfire Recovery package for wildlife and their habitat.

Extraction Team Raft

Image credit: Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria

Page last updated: 07/09/21